On the surface, Daniel Knowlton‘s recent post at Content Marketing Institute is a treasure trove of helpful tips and tricks that explain how to drive inbound links, exposure, traffic and awareness of your blog. It is well crafted, expertly researched, incredibly in-depth and most certainly a provable tactic to do all of those things.
But the more I read through it the more I was reminded of the first reason anyone paid attention to anything I had to say in the digital marketing world. I called out many industry influencers for trying to teach people how to game the Digg.com algorithm back in the social news sites heyday. Knowlton’s post smells slightly of gaming the system.
Don’t get ahead of me — I love the post. I don’t know Daniel Knowlton, but he’s obviously incredibly smart, helpful and knows what he’s talking about. You can implement the ideas in his post and get great traction by doing so.
But what if your blog is focused on helping customers? Is telling them who the influential people in your industry even relevant? I jump over to Zen Habits regularly to get helpful ideas on mindfulness and simplifying my lifestyle. If Leo Babauta published a list of the most influential Buddhist bloggers, I’d immediately think, “Sell out,” and may not go back.
In that type of scenario, Knowlton’s post is simply a trick to game the system. The technique will drive more traffic to your blog and maybe more followers to your social channels. It will make more influential people aware of you and what you do. It might even account for some valuable inbound links. It’ll be good for business. But the one thing it will bring more of than anything else? False positives.
And what happens when everyone is popping out industry influencer posts? What happens when everyone is publishing 10 tricks to solve the same problem? (Have you read any blogs from social media software companies lately? I swear they’re all written by one person who just copy-pastes and changes the headline.)
There’s a fine line between a helpful blog post that is focused on your audience and performance art for the sake of padding your metrics.